Spanish Point | Wild Atlantic Way

Does the viola have a role in Irish music?” I heard some chap say as he cycled by us “Well, I was discussing just this with a lady on the plane just yesterday” his cycling companion replied. I never got to hear the end of the conversation because they cycled on out of earshot but I was left wondering a) was the lady on the plane a willing participant of that conversation and b) does the viola actually have a role in Irish music?

Today we planned on hugging the coast as much as possible. We’re coming around to the idea that The Wild Atlantic Way is more of a driving tour than a walking trail because there’s a lot of road walking and often the coast path is unmarked. So we pick our walks now based on how close to the coast we can get. Today Doolin was our start point. The name makes me think of Nicky… my lovely songbird of a friend who left this world far far too soon. Her husband’s band is called Doolin. I miss her smile (and Jaqui’s) and both these ladies continue to remind me that life should be lived to the full.

Doolin Pier is a small ferry port for day trips out to the Aran Isles so parking spaces were at a premium but having found a space we headed off in search of a trail. The ‘way’ would take us back to the road so instead we followed what looked like a well worn path but before long it was lost among the giant rocks that make up the coast line. At first it seemed easy walking but as we continued it became harder and harder. The rocks are uneven and some unstable, there are huge fissures between them and the rocks move underfoot. You can’t put your foot in a gap as you have no idea how deep it will be and it felt like we were playing some crazy huge game of hopscotch. We were about to give up and return but thankfully we spotted the path, much closer to the shoreline and headed for this.

Today was all about clouds. We don’t see clouds so much anymore in France well certainly not like these clouds before. Huge layers of white and grey and silver with the occasional burst of pale blue or bright sky blue. I was mesmerised watching them. Layered against the colours of the sea, the slate grey of the rocks and the emerald green of the fields, honestly the landscape is so glorious that it just makes me want to start painting!

It was a beautiful walk. Our plan was walk for an hour and then walk back. At a suitable turning point we found a rock and paused for a drink and a selfie before heading back.

Onwards we drove to Spanish Point. On the information board we read that it was here in 1588 that a few of the 130 strong retreating Spanish fleet sank in heavy and stormy seas. Some of the crew survived the shipwrecks but, on orders of Elizabeth the First, those men were to be tortured for information and subsequently hanged, a few kilometres further along the coast from where they came ashore. We couldn’t help feeling sorry for those poor sailors… what brutal times they were!

We planned to continue our walk along the coast at Spanish Point and by chance the carpark was beside a bar, so after our picnic in the car we went inside in search of cool refreshments. We found a quiet corner and contemplated life as retirees… it was good!

As nice as it was in our bar, there were several kilometres still to be walked so we headed back to the trail and walked along to coast to Armada Point, before turning around and retracing our steps back to the car park. Gerry pointed out that there was the possibility of more cold drinks and a bathroom inside, so before moving on we returned for just one more.

We returned to our little corner and talked about all the decor, memorabilia from a hundred years ago at the start of the Irish revolt. We asked the barman if it was personal, there were so many trinkets and photos. He told us the snug had been created as a nod to how Irish bars would have been but also to remember the sacrifices made during the 1916 uprising. He shared with us some local stories which were sobering… for the second time today we reflected on how brutal men can be.

Our last walk started at Seafield Pier, a tiny little harbour, on a headland, surrounded by two huge sweeping bays. We walked along the first to the harbour but reached a dead-end so we turned around headed off in the opposite direction and for the first time this trip got to walk on the sand beside the sea.

What can we say. It was another beautiful walk. We were quite alone apart from the odd dog walker and a happy dog. We walked from one end of the bay to the other and when we reached the end we turned and walked back. And just as earlier we couldn’t stop looking at the sky and the clouds and the ever changing light.

I think we managed around 16 kilometres today. Another glorious day in Ireland.

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